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David Harsanyi writes on Bill Nye, fake scientist.
Bill Nye has some detestable ideas about humanity. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Many environmental doomsdayers share his totalitarian impulses (Nye has toyed with the idea of criminalizing speech he dislikes) and soft spot for eugenics.
In his Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” the former children’s television host supplies viewers with various trendy notions to adorn his ideological positions with the sheen of science. In the final episode, Nye and his guests contemplate a thorny “scientific” question: How the state can stop people from having “extra children.”
Nye: So, should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?
Travis Rieder: I do think that we should at least consider it.
Nye: Well, ‘at least consider it’ is like ‘Do it.’
Rieder: One of the things that we could do that’s kind of least policy-ish is we could encourage our culture and our norms to change, right?
All of this was pretty familiar to me, and not only because the panel sounded like a ChiCom planning meeting. The Nye segment, it turns out, was just a repetition of a 2016 NPR article on overpopulation featuring Rieder that I’d once written about. …
Bret Stephens has left the WSJ and joined the NY Times. The last time that was done it was David Brooks. And boy did he go native! He used to write good stuff and we used to put it in Pickings. Now, he has become NY Times unreadable. We will hope the same thing does not happen to Stephens whose unrelenting dislike and dismissal of President Trump was said to lead to the change. Apparently the Journal wishes to cover Trump with less disdain than their initial coverage displayed. Bret Stephens’ first column morphed from the certainties of the Hillary campaign to the certainties of the climate scolds.
… “Mook and his ‘Moneyball’ approach to politics rankled the old order of political operatives and consultants because it made some of their work obsolete,” Allen and Parnes write about the campaign’s final days. “The memo that one Hillary adviser had sent months earlier warning that they should add three or four points to Trump’s poll position was a distant memory.”
There’s a lesson here. We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. From Robert McNamara to Lehman Brothers to Stronger Together, cautionary tales abound.
We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous. Ask Clinton.
With me so far? Good. Let’s turn to climate change.
Last October, the PewResearchCenterpublished a survey on the politics of climate change. Among its findings: Just 36 percent of Americans care “a great deal” about the subject. Despite 30 years of efforts by scientists, politicians and activists to raise the alarm, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either indifferent to or only somewhat bothered by the prospect of planetary calamity.
Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument?
Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t. …
The first Stephens column has created a sh-tstorm at the Times. NeoNeocon posts.
… Which brings us to an article Bret Stephens wrote in his new venue, the NY Times. It was really a rather modest suggestion that people listen to both sides of the issue—not so much on AGW (which he himself seems to believe is true) as on whether we know enough to accurately predict the future of AGW and/or to fix the problems it may cause.
The Twitter storm this caused has been virulent. But if AGW (and intervention to halt or slow its effects) is your religion, then someone like Stephens becomes the AGW devil. Then this sort of response seems perfectly reasonable (if crass):
“You’re a s–thead. a crybaby lil f–kin weenie. a massive twat too,” tweeted Libby Watson, staff writer at Gizmodo.
“I’m gonna lose my mind,” seethed Eve Peyser, politics writer at Vice.
“The ideas ppl like @BretStephensNYT espouse are violently hateful & should not be given a platform by @NYTimes,” she said.
Not only has Stephens been excoriated, but that last sentiment—that he shouldn’t be at the Times—has drawn enough support to be expressed in a petition, that now has about 27,000 supporters, asking that he be fired. …
… Adriana Heguy, a genomics scientist and professor of pathology at NYU, urged her colleagues to scrap their subscriptions, as well.
“Composing my letter to the editor today and canceling @nytimes,” she tweeted. “‘Balance’ means a VALID alternative opinion, not pseudoscience. I’m so sad.”
And Ed Driscoll spotted this at ‘fake news’ Rolling Stone.
… Jesse Berney, Rolling Stone: “literally go f*** yourself, new york times. go, eat, dog, d*cks.” (Note: This is from someone at a magazine proven to have published a spectacularly false story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia. — Ed. …